Monday, October 29, 2012

Quabbin Gate 35

I typically lead a Forbush Bird Club trip at Gate 35 each fall, unfortunately last year's trip was cancelled due to a severe early season blizzard. Fortunately this year's storm "Sandy", which is underway as I type, did not have an adverse effect on this year's trip. Before we left the parking area the double noted call of a Winter Wren was heard in the nearby hemlocks. The bird was coaxed into view with some spishing and screech owl imitations and the whole group of 6 had an excellent view of this little wren. Black-capped Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Tufted Titmice, Golden-crowned Kinglets and a few Brown Creepers were seen as we made our way to the water's edge.

North Quabbin viewed from what was once Rte 21
Bald Eagles are always one of the target species for this trip and at least six were seen, including 4 adults in view during a single scan and two different immatures, which briefly skirmished with each other. Having 6 sets of eyes helped detect a movement of raptors, the following appeared to be migrating SW, Sharp-shinned Hawk 3, Red-shouldered Hawk 2, Red-tailed Hawk 15, Am. and Kestrel 2. Once distant Merlin was seen cruising over what is refered to as the "phragmities island".
Always a Quabbin highlight!
While walking the shoreline two Black-bellied Plovers were seen, a group member asked if we had reached the Worcester County border yet? We hadn't but as we moved south and plovers kept walking just ahead of us and after about 400 meters we were able to "tickem off" in in both Franklin and Worcester Counties! American Robins were migrating SW as well and we noted about 75 +/- as well as a few groups of Canada Geese and small number of Amercian Crows.
Both Black-bellied Plovers

With a decent movement of raptors this BB Plover was
 keeping and eye to the sky
A little hide and seek, or maybe just hide!
We also had a some nice water birds including 3 Red-breasted Mergansers and a single Common. Initially I/we settled on 4 RB Mergs but one was a bit puzzling and had a very limited amount of white under the chin, upon viewing some photos at home, that bird in question was a Common Merganser.
A Red-breasted Merganser and Common to the right.
Two Surf Scoters were nice finds and lingered for prolonged views by the group, a Horned Grebe also showed well along with several Common Loons. A flock of about 15 Snow Buntings quickly rose up on a distant island and just as quickly disappeared never to be seen again. A Greater Yellowlegs was also a good find, but most unusual, to me at least, had been two Rock Pigeons seen flying north. Pigeon is NOT a common bird species in the Quabbin, especially in this region of the watershed.

An accommodating Horned Grebe
 Just after discussing all the great birds we'd seen during the morning and the fact that the Rock Pigeons may have been the most uncommon species seen for the location we were birding, a large black and white duck was spotted in flight. It would be a drake Common Eider, a species that is abundant along the Massachusetts coast but exceedingly rare inland, the last (to my knowledge) Worcester County record being November, 2 1991 just after the infamous "perfect storm".

During the walk back we would enjoy mixed flock of chickadees, titmice, both nuthatch species, kinglets and also continued to scan the water for more waterfowl.

Our small group makes its way along the Quabbin shoreline.


Larry said...

Hey Tom,

That Common Eider sighting is great! A truly unusual bird of only a handful of records from Quabbin west...perhaps the storm will bring a few more in.

Tom Pirro said...

I would venture to say more seabirds will be blown inland, I would image you'll be looking...I wish you luck and safe travels during the storm.

Bob Hilscher said...

Hi there. Congrats on so many bird sightings. I live in Toronto, Canada, and recently, my wife, Jean, and I came upon an adult Red-tailed Hawk in Markham, Ontario. We have read that stalking a hawk is no easy task,that you have to sneak up on them when they are looking the other way. Well, this Hawk was only looking one way when it landed, and that was right at us! Fortunately, we had our camera with us and got some good pictures and video. We have posted them for anyone interested at: